Archive for October, 2006
October 29th, 2006
Jesse Kriss, whose History of Sampling visualization was long ago big upped here at w&w, has updated his Visual Scratch project (as formerly demo’d here) with the assistance of Boston’s DJ Axel Foley.
I take no small satisfaction in having connected these two technicians. When Jesse described to me his intention to represent a number of classic scratch techniques using the system he had set up, I knew Axel Foley — who had deftly demonstrated a history of scratch in my electronic music class, not to mention provided some searing cuts for Boston Jerk — was the man for the job.
For all its wizardry, I still think this demo is but, ahem, scratching the surface w/r/t what can be achieved in terms of illustration and analysis of technological musicking. If I were a more turntablist-inclined ethnomusicologist, I’d be working this into my work right away. (Miles White, where you at?)
Apparently the latest edition of Visual Scratch “will be on display at the InfoVis art exhibit in Baltimore, Oct 29-31, along with a series of six scratch visualization prints” — but I imagine it’ll be on the innertubes a lot longer than that. Check it out.
Cross posted to the Riddim Method.
October 27th, 2006
On Friday, October 27 at 4pm, I’ll be giving a run-through of my paper for SEM in Honolulu as part of the UW-Madison School of Music’s pre-SEM colloquium. The talk is called “What Is Stolen? What Is Lost? Sharing Information in an Age of Litigation,” and discusses the constraints and possibilities swirling around digital media and technologies as pedagogical tools for us multimedia-inclined music scholars.
Also sharing their work will be Richard Miller (“Musical Mobilization and Alternative Futures in Imperial Japan”) and Ellen Jacks (“Party Politics: Inti Raymi and the Indigenous Movement”). It’s free and open to the public. If there are any non-SoM Madisonians who read this blog, I’d love to see you there.
School of Music Colloquium
University of Wisconsin-Madison
October 26th, 2006
Given that it pays homage, follows a venerable reggae tradition (see, e.g., the rankses, the bantons, the demuses, the cats), makes a pop culture pun, and invokes a myth of national origins, I gotta admit —
Tainy Tunes is a fantastic name for an up-and-coming reggaeton producer.
Kid’s only 17, so we’re not gonna judge based on his inextricable work w/ Luny’n’Tunes, but if Tainy’s “voice” proves as creative as his name, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
October 25th, 2006
Last week someone arrived at this site by googling “Maslow applied to the Caribbean” —
just in case that person comes back here looking again, the answer is:
none other than Desmond Green —
October 24th, 2006
We steady tryna “step” our “game” “up” o’er at Riddim Method. To wit:
Some innaresting texty and mixty contributions c/o DJ Ripley.
DJ C’s B-series continues with “Bush” —
to which, I might add — in spirit, since I don’t deign to mention Señor Shrub (it’s bigger’n him anyhow) — my own “America,” which I recently gave its own page here at the new&improved w&w.
DJ Flack offers up his latest bit of “video music,” which I had the pleasure of participating in. Check that cannonball form, yo —
to which, I might add, my own pool-inspired track, “Cypher by the Pool,” a splashy battle rap between me and my lil bro, which can also be listened to in context on the newly created No Substitute page.
Finally, I just posted a recently youtubed, vintage vid of New Edition gettin funky’n’free in the studio —
to which I might add this brilliant bit of audio, available on the Special Edition of Off the Wall (my fave MJ, for the record), featuring the Jackson kids jammin’ in the basement on a downhome demo version of, you wanted it you guessed it you got it, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” To top if off, playing the cowbell, cabasa, and empty bottles are Michael, rarely heard from Randy, and none other than lil Janet. Off the cuff, off the wall, off the meter.
Don’t know bout you, but I didn’t get enough. So why’d they stop?
October 22nd, 2006
I was reminded this week of the wonderful work of Anthony McCann, an ethnomusicologist, among other hats, who now describes himself as primarily a “social ecologist.” I’ve been enjoying Anthony’s generous research on music and copyright/enclosure for a while now, but I was motivated to see what he’s been up to lately after reading his incisive, thoughtful letter to the SEM list regarding our upcoming meeting in Honolulu. Here’s the crux:
Air travel is said by many to be the fastest growing contributor to climate change. Is anyone bothered by the increasing number of interdisciplinary, disciplinary, and subdisciplinary conferences that academics are invited to go to or even expected to go to (for research and professional profiles and networking)? Is anyone keeping track of the burgeoning conference industry? Is anyone concerned at the effect that all those thousands of ‘academically necessary’ flights are having on the carbon footprint of academic practice? Are there other ways we can begin to reconfigure our academic practices to reduce the environmental impact of our scholarly communication and networking? Are there ways in which our conferences might increasingly involve video link-ups or DVD paper presentations? Are there other ways to imagine what we are doing as a discipline as far as interrelationship and communication are concerned? For example, if we didn’t yet have conferences, and we still had this level of environmental urgency, how might we imagine the possibilities of scholarly interaction, while still maintaining an emphasis on the importance of face-to-face interactions? More local activities? Can the board of SEM invite SEM members to consider making at least making an environmental commitment such as that offered by http://www.flightpledge.org.uk/ in their silver pledge programme?
The project that caught my eye at Anthony’s site most strikingly is what he calls “crafting gentleness” —
An important principle of the work on this site is that there is nothing more personal, political, or relevant than attending to the character of our own attitude. Also, that there is no attitude more personal, political, or relevant than an attitude of gentleness. An attitude of gentleness can allow us to live the possibilities of hope as a realistic engagement with the here and now of our relationships and circumstances.
which reminds me of what I imagine to be Thoreau’s distinctively compelling sense of composure, his bearing, esp e.g. as recently invoked by billmon — not to mention his sense of the value of the news. (But then, as Ralph Waldo says, “refuse the good models,” which I myself can rarely manage to do.)
Speaking of which (the news, that is), the crafting gentleness project is associated with a group blog, too, which is where I found an apropos reflection by a contributor named Shelley. Her ideas about creativity and the perpetuation of reality resonate quite strongly, I think, with the whole Sylvestergate shebang that’s been lighting up the boards here at w&w. Shelley writes:
From what I have learned about creativity…what we see and notice and believe as “out there” is what we continue to perpetuate within ourselves. Yes the mass mind has created the stuff of front pages but do we not perpetuate this reality inside ourselves by continually feeding ourselves the same mass thought and emotional climate? How do we be the change we want to see? We rarely watch tv or read the papers in my household. Whenever my daughter comes home from watching the news at her dads or her grandmas she feels like the world is an ugly place. If this becomes an established belief how can she create anything new from that?
Now, obviously the whole reception/reproduction circuit is a complex one and people make their own meanings of what they see and hear from their own complexly situated subject positions (and that need not imply stability), but I feel there’s some truth in Shelley’s statement all the same.
If the above all seems a little sincere, I think I’m feeling pushed there at the moment by all the snark.
… but while we’re talking about the news and taking it easy …
Es un Escándalo (Inter)Nacional!
The Youth Dem Freaking Perreo-Stylee from Sea to Grinding Sea
… they’re doin it in LA! (thx)
… they’re doin it in NE! (thx)
… but not like they’re doin it in Lima! *yet*
ps — Did anyone tubesock, or something, that perreo chacalonero para niÃ±os oddity? Seems finally to have passed into the e-ther.
October 20th, 2006
That review of the new Tego album in the Phoenix that I’ve been telling y’all about has finally seen the light of day. You can find it in the digital fishwrap here, but I’m going to go with my standard practice of reprinting the original on this humble blog since inevitably a word or two (or three) has been changed or excised and it doesn’t always sound like my voice anymore (for better or worse, I suppose, depending on your aesthetics).
For all the Idolators out there who have strong opinions about
who’s hipper than you journalistic integrity, allow me to provide full disclosure: everything you are about to read is a fabrication, an invention of my active imagination — shit, some of it’s a translation. How that affects how you hear Tego, well, you’ll have to let me know.
Tego Calderon’s debut album, El Abayarde (White Lion / BMG 2003) caught the ears of both the reggaeton street and the critical elite. Its diverse stylistic palette, politically-charged rhymes, and easy swagger presented a striking alternative to the assembly-line, in-your-face reggaeton flooding the market. It also set a high bar for future efforts. On Tego’s new disc, The Underdog / El Subestimado (Jiggiri / Atlantic 2006) the Afro-sporting, gap-toothed grinning rapero returns with another genre-busting effort, and this time he’s got Atlantic records, the label that gave Sean Paul just the right push, to help him project his distinctive, deserving voice.
Those who find reggaeton monotonous would have a hard time lodging the complaint at Tego. Despite the dembows (and plenty of those), Tego’s music brings together a greater variety of styles than most of his contemporarie — and not just his fellow reggaetoneros. Although it has become commonplace to describe reggaeton as a mix of hip-hop, reggae, salsa, and even such traditional Afro-Puerto Rican genres as bomba and plena, few reggaeton productions live up to this motley model. Tego proves the exception, however, and The Underdog revisits all these influences while breaking new ground.
Warning Tego’s challengers that he will return to “kill” them again and again, the lead single, “Los Maté,” gestures both to contemporary hip-hop and further across the Latin musical spectrum by giving a classic Mexican ballad, “El Preso Numero 9,” the chipmunk soul treatment. The track resolves its far-flung connotations with a solid reggaeton groove, layering chopped and filtered loops from such well-worn dancehall sources as the Dem Bow and Bam Bam riddims and adding some subtle synths to fill out the texture. A fitting first shot, “Los Maté” puts Tego right back at the vanguard of the genre, nodding to hip-hop and reggae routes, an expansive, diasporic vision, and a musical talent unconstrained by genre.
In contrast to his peers, many of them participants in the dancehall-heavy pre-reggaeton “underground” or “dembow” scene during the 1990s, Tego cut his teeth on hip-hop, in part while living in Miami as a teenager, and his flows and beats bear witness to an aesthetic steeped in that ol’ boom-bap. While Daddy Yankee and similar vocalists spit double-time rhymes and strain their voices (purposely, mind you) to propel high-pitched melodies cribbed from dancehall reggae, Tego keeps it nonchalant in his smoky baritone, more indebted to Tupac Shakur than Shabba Ranks. He’s more likely to cite Bob Marley as an influence than any dancehall DJs, and he’s quick to add the names of such seminal MCs as Rakim and such skillful soneros as Ismael “Maelo” Rivera, who gets a number of shout-outs on The Underdog. The album employs hip-hop beats alongside reggaeton pistas and reggae riddims (of both dancehall and roots varieties), often infusing them with additional polyrhythmic percussion, evoking the traditional Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean styles Tego has been known to embrace and bringing hip-hop’s Afro-Latin roots back into the foreground by recalling the Latin-tinged funk breaks which provided a rhythmic foundation for the genre. Two acoustic interludes, “Son Dos Alas” and “Por Que,” make audible connections between traditional Afro-Puerto Rican styles and the island’s most contemporary expressions.
Tego has long distinguished himself through his poetic politics, and to his credit he balances such sentiments with cutting humor, a strong sense of fun, and a wide range of topics and concerns, presenting himself as fully human, if that means he must show his seams. The Underdog offers, among other portraits, a poignant plea about a father estranged from his child and restrained by a biased legal system (“Oh Dios”) as well as a genuinely touching tribute to Tego’s late father (“A Mi Papá”), supported by a sweet, nostalgic beat provided by Miami-based producers Major League. The necksnappin’ “Payaso,” produced by Salaam Remi and featuring Puerto Rican hip-hop veteran Eddie Dee and Tego’s up-and-coming labelmate Voltio, effectively reanimates a well-worn Herbie Hancock sample (from Headhunters‘ “Watermelon Man”) in order to assail wannabe gangster reggaetoneros as “clowns,” calling for fewer street stereotypes and more range and substance. Non-Spanish speakers shouldn’t worry too much about missing every detail, for even native Puerto Ricans have trouble keeping up with Tego’s wide-ranging slang, which includes obscure regional references and terms from his grandparents’ generation. As he says in a rare English phrase on the album, “You might not understand, but it’s hot.”
And Tego’s just as happy to balance his more thoughtful turns with tracks telling the girls to “move it.” So listeners looking for some plucky, in-the-genre bangers will not be disappointed by the boom-ch-boom-chick of “Pon La Cara,” “Comprenderas,” or the sole Luny Tunes production on the album, “Cuando Baila Reggaeton” (featuring Yandel). Even Tego’s synth romps tend to stand up to, if not trounce, the competition, while the album’s regular stylistic shifts prevent the dembow fatigue that the genre’s other offerings can produce.
This is not to say that there aren’t missteps on The Underdog, but that’s the price of experimentation. “Mardi Gras,” a bluesy reggaeton grind, is too full of aimless guitar noodling to redeem its bold attempt at another fusion (though Tego’s cartoonish, gravelly chorus almost redeems the track’s southern kitsch). “Badman,” a dancehall tune featuring Buju Banton feels uninspired and gratuitous in its tough guy posturing and “gun lyrics” by-the-numbers. The quasi-live funk of “Bureo Bureo” probably should have been saved for a misguided unplugged album, and though “Chillin'” (with Don Omar) features strong vocals, the producers’ chock-a-block attempt at roots reggae is a little too square. Tego turns in solid performances throughout, but he seems to shine most on The Underdog when he goes out on a limb.
On the tracks where he decides to indulge his love for salsa and to emulate Maelo, “El Negro Calde” takes a strong step forward for reggaeton and salsa alike. DJ Nelson offers up some salsaton accompaniment for Tego and venerable Venezuelan singer Oscar DéLeon. But it is on “Chango Blanco,” an avian allegory about black pride, where Tego shows himself to be a budding sonero in his own right. Supported by a full salsa band, Tego sings with brio the story of a black bird painted white who learns, thanks to some rain, to love his true color: “I want to stay / I want to stay black,” Tego intones, “I was born with this color / And it looks good on me, good.” Improvising his way skillfully through a call/response montuno, Tego occasionally dips into some rap-style vocals for contrast.
At the end of the song, he pronounces “weak salsa” to be done — something to provoke the anti-reggaeton old folk, no doubt, but not necessarily off the mark given how much salsa, especially in its romantica guise, has become cheesy and decidedly apolitical. Tego’s turn here hints at the reinvigoration both genres might receive through such an exchange. He may not yet be the “sonero mayor,” or premiere improviser, that Maelo was, but he’s well on his way.
Buy it here.
October 18th, 2006
Yesterday Becca and Charlie hosted Tricky Nick Sylvester in their CyberOne class in order to discuss “Active Participation in the Media.”
It’s an interesting conversation, raising a number of points every good reader should consider (and that means YOU). Nick speaks well, students don’t let him off easy, and Becca keeps our eyes on the prize.
gawk watch the (Quicktime) video of the class in two parts: first | second
I recommend it. If nothing else, one gets a stronger sense of Nick’s voice.
All the better to appreciate the next turn he takes.
October 17th, 2006
Go go text-sharing blogs: Greg Scruggs offers up Paul Sneed’s’s doctoral thesis on funky Rio.
Kerim argues for an Open Source Anthro, asking “Can the Subaltern Google?”
While we’re at it, allow me to point you to an article I’ve got in a forthcoming “hip-hop issue” of Callaloo: “Giving Up Hip-hop’s Firstborn: A Quest for the Real after the Death of Sampling” (pdf). It’s a recent rivisitation of an ol’ master’s thesis spin-off (a revised chapter really — the other one’s on DJ Premier). Reading ?uestlove’s and the Roots’ musical and extramusical gestures as producing a poetics of the “real,” I examine the effects of copyright law on hip-hop production in the late 90s and the investment of sampled sounds with authenticity. High hip-hop theory (or high theory hip-hop [or hip-hop theory high]), if you’re into that sort of thing. I try to keep it grounded in sound and sentiment, though, knamean?
In addition to doing a close reading of ?uestlove’s “History of Sampling,” as published in Rap Pages, wherein the drummer slyly threads a consistent record of “trad” instrumental practice into and against the development of sample-based techniques, I attempt to explicate the musical poetics at work in the group’s invocations and reformations of hip-hop’s signpost features, focusing largely on Black Thought’s flow and ?uest’s drumming and timbral concerns.
Take, for example, the following (loose) transcription of Black Thought’s flow on the first verse of “Concerto of the Desperado” (listen along and see what you think — rhymes are in bold, with internal rhymes italicized):
If you want to check out my analysis, peep the paper (esp pp. 12-6). And go ask for Callaloo at your local library. And pick up a copy of Illadelph Halflife too for that matter.
And what of new kickass? A spam allegory, perhaps? Take it, Personal.
// &also //
Gastrosonic Tourism: See, Taste, and Hear Italy — and Binaurally, at that!! (Such surreal soundtracking: the first Roman Recording — skip down to Day One — picks up zooming taxis and a street band playing Piazzola.)
For more in the food’n’sound bloggin’ biz: see Soul Cocina (as prev mentioned here), GrubNoise, and FancyToast (though that’s just a food blog, written by a musician).
October 16th, 2006
Imagine being asked to open up for an old school hip-hop DJ. Y’know, one of the innovators, the originators, the architects. Pretty good deal, right? An opportunity not to be missed.
Now imagine being given a list of tracks you can’t play. Fair enough, you think. Gotta leave some crowd pleasers and ol’ stand-bys for the big man.
But what if the list looked like the one below (never mind that there are some wack tracks on there)? What you gonna play now, Mr. Hotshot Opener?
1. Mexican – Babe Ruth
2. Big beat – Billy Squire
3. Apache – Bongo band
4. Seven Minutes of Funk – family
5. Mardi gras – Bob James
6. Pump It up – Trouble funk
7. Fusion Beats – Tramp
8. Get up and dance – Freedom
9. Just began – Jimmy Castor
10. Give it up and turn it loose – James Brown
11. Listen to me – Baby Huey
Old Rap/Hip Hop
1. All Tupac songs
2. All Naughty by nature songs
3. Rappers Delight – Sugar hill gang
4. The Adventures of GMF GMF
5. The Message – Grandmaster Flash
6. Planet Rock – Afrika Bambaataa
7. All LL Cool Jay Songs
8. Mic Checka – Das Efx
9. Take it Personal – Gangstarr
10. All Eric B and Rakim Songs
11. It takes 2 – Rob Base
12. Jump Around – House of Pain
13. Time for some action – Redman
14. The choice is yours – Black sheep
15. All Public Enemy songs
16. All Tribe called Quest songs
17. All Krs 1 songs
18. Humpty Dance – Digital underground
19. Ive got the power- Snap
20. All Cypress Hill songs
21. All Run Dmc songs
22. All Dela Soul songs
23. Jam on it – Neucleus
24. Treat Em right – Chubb Rock
1. Im coming out – Diana Ross
2 Got to be real – Cheryl Lynn
3 I cant wait – Nu Shooz
4 More bounce to the ounce – Zapp
5 Genius of love – Tom Tom Club
6 Hot stepper – Ini Kamoze
7 All Michael Jackson songs
8 Groove is in the heart – Deelite
9 Give it to me baby- Rick james
10 Freakout – Chic
11 Knee Deep – Funkadelic
12 All Prince songs
13 We are family – Sister Sledge
14 Toms Diner – Suzanne Vega
15 All night long – Mary Jane Girls
16 Outstanding – Gap band
17 Hold On – En Vogue
18 Before I let go – Maze
19 Bounce rock roll skate – Vaughn Mason
20 Square biz – Teena Marie
21 A Dj saved my life – Indeep
22 Good Times – Chic
23 Another one bites the dust – Queen
24 All Madonna songs
25 All Donna Summer songs
1. All 50 Cent
2. Chingy Rite there
3. Magic Stick – Lil Kim
4. Get Low – lil John
5. The Benjamins (all versions)
6. Party and Bullshit – Rah Digga
7. Like a Pimp – David Banner
8. The Jump Off – Lil Kim
9. Do that dance – Baby
10. Back that ass up – Juvenile
11. Bling Bling – BG
12. Pump It up – Joe Buddens
13. Excuse me – Jay Z
14. Roc the mic – Freeway
15. Beautiful – Snoop Dog
16. Vivarin Thing – Q tip
17. All BIG songs
18. Beware – Jay z
19. Never Scarred – Bone Crusher
20. Ante up – MOP
21. Nothin – Nore
22. La La La – Jay z
23. I just wanna – Jay z
New R + B
1. Love like this before ( all versions) Faith Evans
2. All songs by Mary J Blige
3. Frontin – Pharrell
4. Crazy in Love – beyonce
5. This is how we do it – Montell Jordon
6. Neva let you go – Syleena Johnson
7. Only you ( all versions) 112
8. Rock your body – Justin Timberlake
9. Neva Leave you Uh Oh – Lumidee
10. Jenny from the block – Jennifer Lopez
I mean, I can understand calling a few of the anthems, and maybe even locking down the b-boy classics. But all PE songs? All Eric B and Rakim songs? All Tribe Called Quest songs? All B.I.G. songs? Damn. Might as well call “All hip-hop.”
Incidentally, I got the list above from a local DJ (who will remain unnamed) who was recently asked to open for one of hip-hop’s most legendary DJs (who will remain unnamed). When I asked him what that left him with, he said “All B-more!” Good lookin’ on the bright side, yo.
So, what would YOU play?
Cross-posted to the Riddim Method
October 13th, 2006
Given that urbody’s raving, and rightly so, about Dr.Auratheft’s DoabaGypsyQawwaliFlamenco mix (which I misnomerly bigged up back at the blogspot), I think it’s only proper to point you to Murk’s second podcast, DiasporRoma, which selects for similar socio-sonic suggestions.
From a slightly different angle, or yet another node on the bellydance diaspora (no misnomo), here’s a chunky chunk from Cambridge’s own George Abdo and his Flames of Araby Orchestra. (Ah, to have been a fly in the hummus at the Averof back in the days.) Note, in a fine bit of cosmopolitanism, the 3:2 clave that comes in over the bellydance breaks at around 2:20.
And just when you thought /Jace had “killed” the conversation (but not in a bad way) by dropping a heavy Paul Gilroy quote, the Negrophonic dubstep discussion twists&turns and ghosts&coasts along, continuing to offer up engaged perspectives, passionate arguments, and changed minds. /Word!
Germane to that thread, Paul.Meme argues, provocatively and persuasively, that “dubstep actually is reggae!” and provides a killer mix to show and prove.
And Deeptime (a/k/a Autonomic reborn) weighs in w/ a “long and effusive” “fanboy” review of Kode9/SpaceApe’s new one (which is currently coming my way over the Black Atlantic via Boomkat).
Go go music blogosphere.